Who is Jake Adelstein? 'Tokyo Vice' based on memoirs of first non-Japanese crime reporter
'Tokyo Vice' is one of the most anticipated HBO Max shows. One glimpse at the comment section of their YouTube page says so, with some claiming that they've been waiting for 5 years for it to attain fruition.
'Tokyo Vice,' as a concept, was in the pipeline for quite some time and was initially supposed to be a feature film starring Daniel Radcliffe in 2013. Anthony Mandler, who is known for his work with Eminem, Shakira, Taylor Swift, and Snoop Dogg to name a few, was set to direct the film but it fell apart. By 2019, 'Tokyo Vice' had been reshaped into a television series, and WarnerMedia had given a 10-episode order, which would be streamed on HBO Max.
'Tokyo Vice,' starring Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe, is an adaptation of 'Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.' The non-fiction book was written by Jake Adelstein in 2009 and is a memoir of his 12-year-long stint as a reporter at Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the largest newspapers in Japan. It's important to mention that Adelstein was the first non-Japanese staff writer at Shimbun and was also the first one to report on the Yakuza and other criminal activities.
Who is Jake Adelstein?
Adelstein is a crime writer, journalist, and blogger of American descent. He grew up in Missouri and at the age of 19, moved to Japan to study Japanese literature at Sophia University. Five years later, he would join Yomiuri Shimbun as their first non-Japanese writer.
Speaking to Tokyo Reporter right after his book came out, Adelstein recollected that he started off by covering two local police stations in the Saitama prefecture. He graduated to the police headquarters press club after that, where he covered the public security, theft, and organized crime control divisions. "I wrote up about your typical sporadic murders, robberies and as well stories about busts of complicated organized crime enterprises," Adelstein said.
He also covered local politics and environmental issues but "in one way or another," Adelstein was covering crime. He was eventually moved to the IT news section and this was when he started writing about the Yakuza as they had provided venture capital to up and coming tech firms. He was transferred to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Beat after this and "there was a good degree of variation in the types of crimes, scams, and schemes" that he got to cover. Adelstein left Yomiuri Shimbun in 2005, following which he published an expose of how Tadamasa Goto, an alleged crime boss, struck a deal with the FBI to gain entry to the United States for a liver transplant. Soon after, Adelstein had to relocate as his life was at risk. He has even accused Goto of threatening to kill him over the story in 'Tokyo Vice.'
Adelstein, subsequently, has worked with the United States Department of State, Daily Beast, Vice News, and The Japan Times, among other publications. He is also a board member and advisor to the Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims. Adelstein switches between Japan and America.
The first 3 episodes of 'Tokyo Vice' are slated to release on HBO Max on April 7, 2022. The remaining episodes will drop on the Thursdays following the premiere.